Buttery Guns and Welfare Hawks: The Politics of Defense Spending in Advanced Industrial Democracies Academic Article uri icon


  • In this article, we present a new theory that, given the economic consequences of military spending, some governments may use military spending as a means of advancing their domestic non-military objectives. Based on evidence that governments can use military spending as welfare policy in disguise, we argue that the role of ideology in shaping military spending is more complicated than simple left-right politics. We also present a theory that strategic elites take advantage of opportunities presented by international events, leading us to expect governments that favor more hawkish foreign policy policies to use low-level international conflicts as opportunities for increasing military spending. Using pooled time-series data from 19 advanced democracies in the post-World War II period, we find that government ideology, measured as welfare and international positions, interacts with the international security environment to affect defense spending. 2010, Midwest Political Science Association.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Whitten, G. D., & Williams, L. K.

citation count

  • 88

complete list of authors

  • Whitten, Guy D||Williams, Laron K

publication date

  • January 2011